Border Incident is a 1949 film noir directed by Anthony Mann. The MGM film was written by John C. Higgins and George Zuckerman. The film was shot by cinematographer John Alton, who used shadows and lighting effects to involve an audience despite the fact that the film was shot on a low budget. The drama features Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva, among others.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Anthony Mann|
|Produced by||Nicholas Nayfack|
|Screenplay by||John C. Higgins|
|Story by||George Zuckerman|
Howard Da Silva
|Music by||André Previn|
|Edited by||Conrad A. Nervig|
"Here is the All-American Canal. It runs through the desert for miles along the California-Mexico border... Farming in Imperial Valley... [requires] a vast army of farm workers... and this army of workers comes from our neighbor to the south, from Mexico. ... It is this problem of human suffering and injustice about which you should know. The following composite case is based upon factual information supplied by the Immigration and Naturalization Service..."
The story concerns two agents, one Mexican (PJF) and one American, who are tasked to stop the smuggling of Mexican migrant workers across the border to California. The two agents go undercover, one as a poor migrant.
Some of the film's most memorable scenes include the death of an American by a mechanized harrow and a climactic shootout in a quicksand swamp.
- Ricardo Montalban as Pablo Rodriguez
- George Murphy as Jack Bearnes
- Howard Da Silva as Owen Parkson
- James Mitchell as Juan Garcia
- Arnold Moss as Zopilote
- Alfonso Bedoya as Cuchillo
- Teresa Celli as Maria Garcia
- Charles McGraw as Jeff Amboy
- José Torvay as Pocoloco
- John Ridgely as Mr. Neley
- Arthur Hunnicutt as Clayton Nordell
- Sig Ruman as Hugo Wolfgang Ulrich
- Jack Lambert as Chuck
- Otto Waldis as Fritz
According to MGM records the film earned $580,000 in the US and Canada and $328,000 overseas resulting in a loss of $194,000.
Roger Westcombe compared the film to classic Westerns: "Yet far from a typical Western's sense of freedom, Border Incident shares with [director Mann's previous film noir] T-Men that film's inky, submerged visual quality. These are 'wide' but not 'open' spaces, as Alton's beautifully registered grey-toned but grim visuals make the distant horizons as closed as the American border. The constant presence of vulnerable, innocent peasants adds a piquancy to Border Incident, raising the stakes from the destiny of a mere two police agents to that of an entire underclass."
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Border Incident at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- Metro is Planning Low-Budget Films: 'Border Incident,' To Be Made Next Year, First of Series - Cost Set at $550,000 By Thomas F. Brady Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Dec 1948: 33.
- Westcombe, Roger Archived March 1, 2005, at the Wayback Machine. Big House Film, review. Last accessed: December 25, 2007.